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S. 6. & E. L. ELBERT 




80S 




^ 





A ^ 

XV K AgHAHIKE E» COMAIT 



ORATION 



ON THE 



LIFE AND CHARACTER 



OF 



HENRY WINTER DAVIS, 



BY 



HON. JOHN A. J. CRESWELL. 



Delivered in the Hall of the House of Representatives, 
February 22, 1866. 



WASHINGTON: 
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE. 

I860. 



PREFACE. 



The death of Hon. Henry Winter Davis, for many years a distinguished 
Representative of one of the Baltimore congressional districts, created a deep 
sensation among those who had been associated with him in national legis- 
lation, and they deemed it fitting to pay to his memory unusual honors. They 
adopted resolutions expressive of their grief, and invited Hon. John A. J. 
Creswell, a Senator of the United States from the State of Maryland, to deliver 
an oration on his life and character, in the hall of the House of Representatives, 
on the 22d of February, a day the recurrence of which ever gives increased 
warmth to patriotic emotions. 

The hall of the House was filled by a distinguished audience to listen to the 
oration. Before eleven o'clock the galleries were crowded in every part. The 
flags above the Speaker's desk were draped in black, and other insignia of 
mourning were exhibited. An excellent portrait of the late Hon. Henry 
Winter Davis was visible through the folds of the national banner above the 
Speaker's chair. As on the occasion of the oration on President Lincoln by 
Hon. George Bancroft, the Marine band occupied the ante-room of the 
reporters' gallery, and discoursed appropriate music. 

At twelve o'clock the senators entered, and the judges of the Supreme Court, 
preceded by Chief Justice Chase. Of the Cabinet Secretary Stanton and Sec- 
retary McCulloch were present. After prayer by the chaplain, the Declaration 
of Independence was read by Hon. Edward McPherson, Clerk of the 
House. After the reading of the Declaration, followed by the playing of a 
dirge by the band, Hon. Schuyler Colfax, Speaker of the House of Repre- 
sentatives, introduced the orator of the day, Hon. J. A. J. Creswell. 



REMARKS 

OF 

HON. SCHUYLER COLFAX, 

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 



Hon. Schuyler Colfax, Speaker of the House of Representatives, 
said : 

Ladies and Gentlemen: The duty has been devolved upon me 
of introducing to you the friend and fellow- member, here, of Henry 
Winter Davis, and I shall detain you but a moment from his 
address, to which you will listen with saddened interest. 

The world always appreciates and honors courage : the courage 
of Christianity, which sustained martys in the amphitheatre, at the 
stake, and on the rack ; the courage of Patriotism, which inspired 
millions in our own land to realize the historic fable of Curtius, and 
to fill up with their own bodies, if need be, the yawning chasm 
which imperiled the republic; the courage of Humanity, which is 
witnessed in the pest-house and the hospital, at the death-bed of the 
homeless and the prison-cell of the convict. But there is a courage 
of Statesmen, besides ; and nobly was it illustrated by the statesman 
whose national services we commemorate to-day. Inflexibly hostile 
to oppression, whether of slaves on American soil or of republicans 
struggling in Mexico against monarchical invasion, faithful always 
to principle and liberty, championing always the cause of the down- 
trodden, fearless as he was eloquent in his avowals, he was mourned 
throughout a continent; and from the Patapsco to the Gulf the 
blessings of those who had been ready to perish followed him to his 
tomb. It is fitting, therefore, though dying a private citizen, that 
the nation should render him such marked and unusual honors ill 
this hall, the scene of so many of his intellectual triumphs; and I 
have great pleasure in introducing to you, as the orator of the day, 
Hon. J. A. J. Creswell, his colleague in the thirty-eighth Congress, 
and now Senator from the State of Maryland. 



m- 



ORATION 

OF 

HON. JOHN A. J. CRESWELL. 



My Countrymen: On the 22d day of February, 1732, 
God gave to the world the highest type of humanity, in 
the person of George Washington. Combining within 
himself the better qualities of the soldier, sage, states- 
man, and patriot, alike brave, wise, discreet, and incor- 
ruptible, the common consent of mankind has awarded 
him the incomparable title of Father of his Country. 
Among all nations and in every clime the richest 
treasures of language have been exhausted in the effort 
to transmit to posterity a faithful record of his deeds. 
For him unfading laurels are secure, so long as letters 
shall survive and history shall continue to be the guide 
and teacher of civilized men. The whole human race 
has become the self-appointed guardian of his fame, 
and the name of Washington will be ever held, over all 
the earth, to be synonymous with the highest perfection 
attainable in public or private life, and coeternal with 
that immortal love to which reason and revelation have 
together toiled to elevate human aspirations — the love 
of liberty, restrained and guarded by law. 

But in the presence of the Omnipotent how insignifi- 
cant is the proudest and the noblest of men! Even 
Washington, who alone of his kind could fill that com- 
prehensive epitome of General Henry Lee, so often on 
our lips, "First in war, first in peace, and first in the 



l 



8 ORATION ON THE LIFE AND CHARACTER 

hearts of his countrymen," was allowed no exemption 
from the common lot of mortals. In the sixty-eighth 
year of his age he, too, paid the debt of nature. 

The dread announcement of his demise sped over 
the land like a pestilence, burdening the very air with 
mourning, and carrying inexpressible sorrow to every 
household and every heart. The course of legislation 
was stopped in mid career to give expression to the 
grief of Congress, and by resolution, approved January 
6, 1800, the 22d of February of that year was devoted 
to national humiliation and lamentation. This is, then, 
as well a day of sorrow as a day of rejoicing. 

More recent calamities also remind us that death is 
universal king. Just ten days ago our great historian 
pronounced in this hall an impartial judgment upon the 
earthly career of him who, as savior of his country, will 
be counted as the compeer of Washington. Scarce 
have the orator's lingering tones been mellowed into 
silence, scarce has the glowing page whereon his words 
were traced lost the impress of his passing hand, yet 
we are again called into the presence of the Inexorable 
to crown one more illustrious victim with sacrificial 
flowers. Having taken up his lifeless body, as beautiful 
as the dead Absalom, and laid it in the tomb with be- 
coming solemnity, we have assembled in the sight of 
the world to do deserved honor to the name and mem- 
ory of Henry Winter Davis, a native of Annapolis, in 
the State of Maryland, but always proudly claiming to 
be no less than a citizen of the United States of 
America. 

We have not convened in obedience to any formal 



custom, requiring us to assume an empty show of be- 
reavement, in order that we may appear respectful to 
the departed. We who knew Henry Winter Davis 
are not content to clothe ourselves in the outward garb 
of grief, and call the semblance of mourning a fitting 
tribute to the gifted orator and statesman, so suddenly 
snatched from our midst in the full glory of his mental 
and bodily strength. We would do more than "bear 
about the mockery of woe." Prompted by a genuine 
affection, we desire to ignore all idle and merely con- 
ventional ceremonies, and permit our stricken hearts to 
speak their spontaneous sorrow. 

Here, then, where he sat for eight years as a Repre- 
sentative of the people; where friends have trooped 
about him, and admiring crowds have paid homage to 
his genius; where grave legislators have yielded them- 
selves willing captives to his eloquence, and his wise 
counsel has moulded, in no small degree, the law of a 
great nation, let us, in dealing with what he has left us, 
verify the saying of Bacon, "Death openeth the good 
fame and extinguisheth envy." Remembering that he 
was a man of like passions and equally fallible with 
ourselves, let us review his life in a spirit of generous 
candor, applaud what is good, and try to profit by it; 
and if we find aught of ill, let us, so far as justice and 
truth will permit, cover it with the vail of charity and 
bury it out of sight forever. So may our survivors do 
for us. 

The subject of this address was bom on the 16th of 
August, 1817. 

His father, Rev. Henry Lyon Davis, of the Protestant 



Episcopal church, was president of St. John's College 
at Annapolis, Maryland, and rector of St. Ann's parish 
He was of imposing person, and great dignity and force 
of character. He was, moreover, a man of genius, and 
of varied and profound learning, eminently versed in 
mathematics and natural sciences, abounding in class- 
ical lore, endowed with a vast memory, and gifted with 
a concise, clear, and graceful style; rich and fluent in 
conversation, but without the least pretension to oratory 
and wholly incapable of extempore speaking. He was 
removed from the presidency of St. John's by a board 
of democratic trustees because of his federal politics; 
and, years afterward, he gave his son his only lesson in 
politics at the end of a letter, addressed to him when 
at Kenyon College, in this laconic sentence: "My son, 
beware of the follies of Jacksonism." 

His mother was Jane Brown Winter, a woman of 
elegant accomplishments and of great sweetness of 
disposition and purity of life. It might be truthfully 
said of her, that she was an exemplar for all who knew 
her. She had only two children, Henry Winter, and 
Jane, who married Rev. Edward Syle. 

The education of Henry Winter began very early, 
at home, under the care of his aunt, Elizabeth Brown 
Winter, who entertained the most rigid and exacting 
opinions in regard to the training of children, but who 
was withal a noble woman. He once playfully said, " I 
could read before I was four years old, though much 
against my will." When his father was removed from 
St. John's, he went to Wilmington, Delaware, but some 
time elapsed before he became settled there. Mean- 



m 



while, Henry Winter remained with his aunt in Alex- 
andria, Virginia. He afterward went to Wilmington, 
and was there instructed under his father's supervision. 
In 1827 his father returned to Maryland and settled in 
Anne Arundel county. 

After reaching Anne Arundel, Henry Winter became 
so much devoted to out-door life that he gave small 
promise of scholarly proficiency. He affected the 
sportsman, and became a devoted disciple of Nimrod; 
accompanied always by one of his father's slaves he 
roamed the country with a huge old fowling-piece on 
his shoulder, burning powder in abundance, but doing 
little damage otherwise. While here he saw much of 
slaves and slavery, and what he saw impressed him pro- 
foundly, and laid the foundation for those opinions which 
he so heroically and constantly defended in all his after- 
life. Referring to this period, he said long afterward, 
"My familiar association with the slaves while a boy 
gave me great insight into their feelings and views. 
They spoke with freedom before a boy what they would 
have repressed before a man. They were far from 
indifferent to their condition ; they felt wronged and 
sighed for freedom. They were attached to my father 
and loved me, yet they habitually spoke of the day when 
God would deliver them." 

He subsequently went to Alexandria, and was sent 
to school at Howard, near the Theological Seminary, 
and from Howard he went to Kenyon College, in Ohio, 
in the fall of 1833. 

Kenyon was then in the first year of the presidency 
of Bishop Mcllvaine. It was the centre of vast forests, 



■•® 



broken only by occasional clearings, excepting along 
the lines of the National road, and the Ohio river and 
its navigable tributaries. In this wilderness of nature, 
but garden of letters, he remained, at first in the gram- 
mar school, and then in the college, until the 6th of 
September, 1837; when at twenty years of age he 
took his degree and diploma, decorated with one of the 
honorary orations of his class, on the great day of com- 
mencement. His subject was "Scholastic Philosophy." 
At the end of the Freshman year, a change in the 
college terms gave him a vacation of three months. In- 
stead of spending it in idleness, as he might have done, 
and as most boys would have done, he availed himself 
of this interval to pursue and complete the studies of 
the Sophomore year, to which he bad already given 
some attention in his spare moments. At the opening, 
of the next session he passed the examination for the 
Junior class. Fortunately I have his own testimony 
and opinion as to this exploit, and I give them in his 
own language: 

"It was a pretty sharp trial of resolution and dogged diligence, 
but it saved me a year of college, and indurated my powers of study 
and mental culture into a habit, and perhaps enabled me to stay 
long enough to graduate. I do not recommend the example to those 
who are independently situated, for learning must fall like the 
rain in such gentle showers as to sink in if it is to be fruitful ; 
when poured on the richest soil in torrents, it not only runs off 
without strengthening vegetation, but washes away the soil itself." 

His college life was laborious and successful. The 
regular studies were prosecuted with diligence, and from 
them he derived great profit, not merely in knowledge, 
but in what is of vastly more account, the habit and 



power of mental labor. These studies were wrought 
into his mind and made part of the intellectual sub- 
stance by the vigorous collisions of the societies in 
which he delighted. For these mimic conflicts he pre- 
pared assiduously, not in writing, but always with a 
carefully deduced logical analysis and arrangement of 
the thoughts to be developed in the order of argument, 
with a brief note of any quotation, or image, or illus- 
tration, on the margin at the appropriate place. From 
that brief he spoke. And this was his only method of 
preparation for all the great conflicts in which he took 
part in after life. He never wrote out his speeches 
beforehand. 

Speaking of his feelings at the end of his college 
life, he sadly said: 

"My father's death had embittered the last days of the year 
1836, and left me without a counsellor. I knew something of books, 
nothing of men, and I went forth like Adam among the wild beasts 
of the unknown wilderness of the world. My father had dedicated 
me to the ministry, but the day had gone when such dedications 
determined the lives of young men. Theology as a grave topic of 
historic and metaphysical investigation I delighted to pursue, but for 
the ministry I had no calling. I would have been idle if I could, 
for I had no ambition, but I had no fortune and I could not beg or 
starve." 

All who were acquainted with his temperament can 
well imagine what a gloomy prospect the future pre- 
sented to him, when its contemplation wrung from his 
stoical taciturnity that touching confession. 

The truth is, that from the time he entered college 
he was continually cramped for want of money. The 
negroes ate everything that was produced on the farm 

^■■■■■-■■■■■■■■■■ii™ 



in Anne Arundel, a gastronomic feat which they could 
easily accomplish, without ever having cause to com- 
plain of a surfeit. His aunt, herself in limited circum- 
stances, by a careful husbandry of her means, managed 
to keep him at college. Kenyon was then a manual- 
labor institution, and the boys were required to sweep 
their own rooms, make their own beds and fires, bring 
their own water, black their own boots, if they ever 
were blacked, and take an occasional turn at grubbing 
in the fields or working on the roads. There was no 
royal road to learning known at Kenyon in those days. 
Through all this Henry Winter Davis passed, bearing 
his part manfully ; and knowing how heavily he taxed 
the slender purse of his aunt, he denied himself with 
such rigor that he succeeded, incredible as it may ap- 
pear, in bringing his total expenses, including boarding 
and tuition, within the sum of eighty dollars per annum. 
His father left an estate consisting only of some 
slaves, which were equally apportioned between him- 
self and sister. Frequent applications were made to 
purchase his slaves, but he never could be induced to 
sell them, although the proceeds would have enabled 
him to pursue his studies with ease and comfort. He 
rather sought and obtained a tutorship, and for two 
years he devoted to law and letters only the time he 
could rescue from its drudgery. In a letter, written in 
April, 1839, replying to the request of a relative who 
offered to purchase his slave Sallie, subject to the pro- 
visions of his father's will, which manumitted her if she 
would go to Liberia, he said : " But if she is under my 
control," (he did not know that she had been set to his 



share,) "I will not consent to the sale, though he wishes 
to purchase her subject to the will." And so Sallie 
was not sold, and Henry Winter Davis, the tutor, toiled 
on and waited. He never would hold any of his slaves 
under his authority, never would accept a cent of their 
wages, and tendered each and all of them a deed of 
absolute manumission whenever the law would allow. 
Tell me, was that man sincere in his opposition to 
slavery? How many of those who have since charged 
him with being selfish and reckless in his advocacy of 
emancipation would have shown equal devotion to prin- 
ciple? Not one; not one. Ah! the man who works 
and suffers for his opinions' sake places his own flesh 
and blood in pledge for his integrity. 

Notwithstanding his irksome and exacting duties, he 
kept his eye steadily on the University of Virginia, and 
read, without assistance, a large part of its course. He 
delighted especially in the pungent pages of Tacitus 
and the glowing and brilliant, dignified and elevated 
epic of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. 
These were favorites which never lost their charm for 
him. When recently on a visit at my house, he stated 
in conversation that he often exercised himself in trans- 
lating from the former, and in transferring the thoughts 
of the latter into his own language, and he contended 
that the task had dispelled the popular error that 
Gibbon's style is swollen and declariiatory ; for he 
alleged that every effort at condensation had proved a 
failure, and that at the end of his labors the page he 
had attempted to compress had always expanded to the 

— — ffi 



\w mrrarflr. sMiait 



16 ORATION ON THE LIFE AND CHARACTER 

eye, when relieved of the weighty and stringent fetters 
in which the gigantic genius of Gibbon had bound it. 

About this time — the only period when doubts beset 
him — he was tempted by a very advantageous offer to 
settle in Mississippi. He determined to accept; but 
some kind spirit interposed to prevent the despatch of 
the final letter, and he remained in Alexandria. At 
last his aunt — second mother as she was — sold some 
land and dedicated the proceeds to' his legal studies. 
He arrived at the University of Virginia in October, 
1839. 

From that moment he entered actively and unre- 
mittingly on his course of intellectual training. While 
a boy he had become familiar, under the guidance of 
his father, with the classics of Addison, Johnson, Swift, 
Cowper, and Pope, and he now plunged into the 
domain of history. He had begun at Kenyon to make 
flanking forays into the fields of historic investigation 
which lay so invitingly on each side of the regular 
march of his college course. As he acquired more 
information and confidence, these forays became more 
extensive and profitable. It was then the transition 
period from the shallow though graceful pages of 
Gillies, Rollin, Russel, and Tytler, and the rabbinical 
agglomerations of Shuckford and Prideaux to the 
modern school of free, profound, and laborious investi- 
gation, which has reared immortal monuments to its 
memory in the works of Hallam, Macaulay, Grote, 
Bancroft, Prescott, Motley, Niebuhr, Bunsen, Schlosser, 
Thiers, and their fellows. But of the last-named none 
except Niebuhr's History of Rome and Hallam's Middle 



Ages were accessible to him in the backwoods of Ohio. 
Cousin's Course of the History of Modern Philosophy 
was just glittering in the horizon, and Gibbon shone 
alone as the morning star of the day of historic research, 
which he had heralded so long. The French Revolu- 
tion he had seen only as presented in Burke's brilliant 
vituperation and Scott's Tory diatribe. A republican 
picture of the great republican revolution, the fountain 
of all that is now tolerable in Europe, had not then 
been presented on any authentic and comprehensive 
page. 

Not only these, but all historical works of value 
which the English, French, and German languages can 
furnish, with an immense amount of other intellectual 
pabulum, were eagerly gathered, consumed with vora- 
cious appetite, and thoroughly digested. Supplied at 
last with the required means, he braced himself for a 
systematic curriculum of law, and pursued it with 
marked constancy and success. While at the univer- 
sity he also took up the German and French languages 
and mastered them, and he perfected his scholarship in 
Latin and Greek. Until his death he read all these 
languages with great facility and accuracy, and he 
always kept his Greek Testament lying on his table for 
easy reference. 

After a thorough course at the university, Mr. Davis 
entered upon the practice of the law in Alexandria, 
Virginia. He began his profession without much to 
cheer him ; but he was not the man to abandon a pur- 
suit for lack of courage. His ability and industry 
attracted attention, and before long he had acquired a 



respectable practice, which thenceforth protected him 
from all annoyances of a pecuniary nature. He toiled 
with unwearied assiduity, never appearing in the trial 
of a cause without the most elaborate and exhaustive 
preparation, and soon became known to his professional 
brethren as a valuable ally and a formidable foe. 
His natural aptitude for public affairs made itself 
manifest in due time, and some articles which he 
prepared on municipal and State politics gave him 
great reputation. He also published a series of news- 
paper essays, wherein he dared to question the divinity 
of slavery; and these, though at the time thought to be 
not beyond the limits of free discussion, were cited 
against him long after as evidence that he was a heretic 
in pro-slavery Virginia and Maryland. 

On the 30th of October, 1845, he married Miss Con- 
stance T. Gardiner, daughter of William C. Gardiner, 
Esq., a most accomplished and charming young lady, as 
beautiful and as fragile as a flower. She lived to 
gladden his heart for but a few years, and then, 



"Like a lily drooping, 
She bowed her head and died." 

In 1850 he came to Baltimore, and immediately a 
high position, professional, social, and political, was 
awarded him. His forensic efforts at once commanded 
attention and enforced respect. The young men of 
most ability and promise gathered about him, and made 
him. the centre of their chosen circle. He became a 
prominent member of the whig party, and was every- 
where known as the brilliant orator and successful con- 



's 



®— 



OF HENRY WINTER DAVIS 19 

trovertist of the Scott campaign of 1852. The whig 
party, woni out by its many gallant but unsuccessful 
battles, was ultimately gathered to its fathers, and Mr. 
Davis led off in the American movement. He was 
elected successively to the thirty-fourth, thirty-fifth, and 
thirty-sixth Congresses by the American party from 
the fourth district of Maryland. He supported with 
great ability and zeal Mr. Fillmore for the Presidency 
in 1856, and in 1860 accepted John Bell as the candi- 
date of his party, though he clearly divined and plainly 
announced that the great battle was really between 
Abraham Lincoln, as the representative of the national 
sentiment on the one hand, and secession and disunion, 
in all their shades and phases, on the other. To his 
seat in the thirty-eighth Congress he was elected by 
the Unconditional Union party. 

Since the adjournment of the thirty-eighth Congress 
he has been profoundly concerned in the momentous 
public questions now pressing for adjustment, and he 
did not fail on several fitting occasions to give his views 
at length to the public. Nevertheless, he frequently 
alluded to his earnest desire to retreat for awhile from 
the perplexing annoyances of public life. He had 
determined upon a long visit to Europe in the coming 
spring, and had almost concluded the purchase of a 
delightful country-seat, where he hoped to recruit his 
weary brain for years to come from the exhaustless 
riches of nature. When the thirty-ninth Congress 
met, and he read of his old companions in the work of 
legislation again gathering in their halls and committee- 
rooms, I think, for at least a day or two, he felt a 



longing to be among them. During the second week 
of the session he again entered this hall, but only 
as a spectator. The greeting he received — so general, 
spontaneous, and cordial — from gentlemen on both sides 
of the House, touched his heart most sensibly. The 
crowd that gathered about him was so great that the 
party was obliged to retire to one of the larger ante- 
rooms for fear of interrupting the public business. A 
delightful interview among old friends was the reward. 
He was charmed with his reception, and mentioned it 
to me with intense satisfaction. Little did you, gentle- 
men, then think that between you and a beloved friend 
the curtain that shrouds eternity was so soon to be 
interposed. His sickness was of about a week's dura- 
tion. Until the morning of the day preceding his 
death, his friends never doubted his recovery. Later 
in the day very unfavorable symptoms appeared, and all 
then realized his danger. In the evening his wife 
spoke to him of a visit, for one day, which he had 
projected, to his old friend, Mrs. S. F. Du Pont, when 
he replied, in the last words he ever uttered, "It shows 
the folly of making plans even for a day." He con- 
tinued to fail rapidly in strength until two o'clock on 
the afternoon of Saturday, the 30th of December, when 
Henry Winter Davis, in the forty -ninth year of his 
age, appeared before his God. His death confirmed 
the opinion of Sir Thomas Browne, who declared, 
"Marshaling all the horrors of death, and contemplating 
the extremities thereof, I find not anything therein able 
to daunt the courage of a man, much less a ivell-resolved 



w 

OF HENRY WINTER DAVIS. 21 

Christian" He passed away so quietly that no one 
knew the moment of his departure. His was — 

" A death, life sleep ; 
A gentle wafting to immortal life." 

Mr. Davis left a widow, Mrs. Nancy Davis, a daughter 
of John B. Morris, Esq., of Baltimore, and two little 
girls, who were the idols of his heart. He was married 
a second time on the 26th of January, 1857. His 
nearest surviving collateral relation is the Hon. David 
Davis, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the 
United States, who is his only cousin — german. To all 
these afflicted hearts may God be most gracious. 

Thus has the country lost one of the most able, 
eloquent, and fearless of its defenders. Called from 
this life at an age when most men are just beginning to 
command the respect and confidence of their fellows, 
he has left, nevertheless, a fame as w T ide as our vast 
country. He died nineteen years younger than Wash- 
ington and eight years younger than Lincoln. At forty- 
eight years of age Washington had not seen the glories 
of Yorktown even in a vision, nor had Lincoln dreamed 
of the presidential chair ; and if they had died at that 
age they would have been comparatively unknown in 
history. Doubtless God would have raised up other 
leaders, if they had been wanting, to conduct the great 
American column, which He has chosen to be the body- 
guard of human rights and hopes, onward among the 
nations and the centuries; but in that event the 12th 
and 22d days of February woidd not be, as they now 
are, held sacred in our calendar. 

3T 



Mr. Davis' had gathered into his house the literary 
treasures of four languages, and had reveled in spirit 
with the wise men of the ages. He had conned his 
books as jealously as a miner peering for gold, and had 
not left a panful of earth unwashed. He had collected 
the purest ore of truth and the richest gems of thought, 
until he was able to crown himself with knowledge. 
Blessed with a felicitous power of analysis and a pro- 
digious memory, he ransacked history/ ancient and 
modern, sacred and profane; science, pure", empirical, 
and metaphysical ; the arts, mechanical and liberal ; the 
professions, law, divinity, and medicine ; poetry and the 
miscellanies of literature; and in all these great depart- 
ments of human lore he moved as easily as most men 
do in their particular province. His habit was not only 
to read but to reread the best of his books frequently, 
and he was continually supplying himself with better 
editions of his favorites. In current, playful conversation 
with friends he quoted right and left, in brief and at 
length, from the classics, ancient and modern, and from 
the drama, tragic and comic. In his speeches, on the 
contrary, he quoted but little, and only when he seemed 
to run upon a thought already expressed by some one 
else with singular force and appositeness. He was the 
best scholar I ever met for his years and active life, and 
was surpassed by very few, excepting mere book-worms. 
He has for many years been engaged in collecting 
extracts from newspapers, containing the leading facts 
and public documents of the day ; but he never common- 
placed* from books. His thesaurus was his head. 

I have but little personal knowledge of Mr. Davis as a 



lawyer. It was never my good fortune to be associated 
with him in the trial of a cause ; nor have I ever been 
present when he was so engaged. But at the time of 
his death he filled a high position at the bar, and was 
chosen to lead against the most' distinguished of his 
brethren. On public and constitutional questions, as 
distinguished from those involving only private rights, 
he was a host, and in the argument of the cases which 
grew out of the adoption of the new constitution of 
Maryland he won golden laurels, and drew extraordinary 
encomiums even from his opponents in that angry 
litigation. He was thoroughly read in the decisions of 
the federal courts, and especially in those declaring 
and defining constitutional principles. 

Possessed of a mind of remarkable power, scope, and 
activity; with an immense fund of precious information, 
ready to respond to any call he might make upon it, 
however sudden; wielding a system of logic formed in 
the severest school, and tried by long practice ; gifted 
with a rare command of language and an eloquence well 
nigh superhuman; and withal graced with manners the 
most accomplished and refined, and a person unusually 
handsome, graceful, and attractive. Mr. Davis entered 
public life with almost unparalleled personal advantages. 
Having boldly presented himself before the most rigorous 
tribunal in the world, he proved himself worthy of its 
favor and attention. He soon rose to the front rank of 
debaters, and whenever he addressed the House all sides 
gave him a delighted audience. 

I shall not attempt a review of the topics discussed 
in the thirty -fourth and thirty -fifth Congresses. The 



day was fast coming when contests for the Speakership 
and battles over appropriation bills, ay, even the fierce 
struggle over Kansas, would sink into insignificance, 
and Mr. Davis, with that political prescience for which 
he was always remarkable, seemed to discern the first 
sign of the coming storm. The winds had been long 
sown, and now the whirlwind was to be reaped. The 
thirty-sixth Congress, which had opened so inauspi- 
ciously, and which his vote had saved from becoming a 
perpetuated bedlam, met for its second session on the 
3d of December, 1860, with the clouds of civil war fast 
settling down upon the nation. In the hope that war 
might yet be averted, on the fourth day of the session, 
the celebrated committee of thirty-three was raised, 
with the lamented Corwin, of Ohio, as chairman, and 
Mr. Davis as the member from Maryland. When the 
committee reported, Mr. Davis sustained the majority 
report in an able speech, in which, after urging every 
argument in favor of the report, he boldly proclaimed 
his own views, and the duties of his State and country. 
In his speech of 7th February, 1861, he said: 

*' I do not wish to say one word which will exasperate the already 
too much inflamed state of the public mind ; but I will say that the 
Constitution of the United States, and the laws made in pursuance 
thereof, must he enforced; and they who stand across the path of that 
enforcement must either destroy the power of the United States, or 
it will destroy them." 

For such utterances only a small part of the people 
of his State was on that day prepared. Seduced by the 
wish, they still believed that the Union could be pre- 
served by fair and mutual concessions. They were on 



their knees praying for peace, ignorant that bloody war 
had already girded on his sword. His language was 
then deemed too harsh and unconciliatory, and hundreds, 
I among the number, denounced him in unmeasured 
terms. Before the expiration of three months events 
had demonstrated his wisdom and our folly, and other 
paragraphs from that same speech became the fighting 
creed of the Union men of Maryland. He further said, 
on that occasion : 

" But, sir, there is one State I can speak for, and that is the State 
of Maryland. Confident in the strength of this great government 
to protect every interest, grateful for almost a century of unalloyed 
blessings, she has fomented no agitation ; she has done no act to dis- 
turb the public peace ; she has rested in the consciousness that if 
there be wrong the Congress of the United States will remedy it ; 
and that none exists which revolution would not aggravate. 

" Mr. Speaker, I am here this day to speak, and I say that I do 
speak, for the people of Maryland, who are loyal to the United 
States; and that when my judgment is contested, I appeal to the 
people for its accuracy, and I am ready to maintain it before them. 

" In Maryland we are dull, and cannot comprehend the right of 
secession. We do not recognize the right to make a revolution by 
a vote. We do not recognize the right of Maryland to repeal the 
Constitution of the United States, and if any convention there, called 
by whatever authority, under whatever auspices, undertake to inau- 
gurate revolution in Maryland, their authority will be resisted and 
defied in arms on the soil of Maryland, in the name and by the 
authority of the Constitution of the United States." 

In January, 1861, the ensign of the Republic, while 
covering a mission of mercy, was fired on by traitors. 
In February Jefferson Davis said, at Stevenson, Ala- 
bama, " We will carry war where it is easy to advance, 
where food for the sword and torch await our armies in 
the densely populated cities." In March the thirty- 



sixth Congress, after vainly passing conciliatory resolu- 
tions by the score, among other things recommending 
the repeal of all personal liberty bills, declaring that 
there was no authority outside of the States where 
slavery was recognized to interfere with slaves or slavery 
therein, and proposing by two-thirds votes of both houses 
an amendment of the Constitution prohibiting any future 
amendment giving Congress power over slavery in the 
States, adjourned amid general terror and distress. 

Abraham Lincoln, having passed through the midst 
of his enemies, appeared at Washington in due time 
and delivered his inaugural, closing with these memo- 
rable words : 

" In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in 
mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will 
not assail you. 

" You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. 
You can have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, 
while I shall have the most solemn one to ' preserve, protect, and 
defend' it. 

" I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must 
not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not 
break, our bonds of affection. 

" The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle- 
field and patriot grave to every living hearth and hearth-stone all over 
this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again 
touched, as surely as they will be, by the better angels of our nature." 

Words which, if human hearts do not harden into 

stone, through the long ages yet to come, 

"Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against 
The deep damnation of his taking off." 

The -appeal was spurned; and, in the face of its al- 
most godlike gentleness, they who already gloried in 



their anticipated saturnalia of blood inhumanly and 
falsely stigmatized it as a declaration of war. The long- 
patient North, slow to anger, in its agony still cried, 
" My brother ; oh, my brother ! 5 ' It remained for that 
final, ineradicable infamy of Sumter to arouse the nation 
to arms ! At last, to murder at one blow the liopes 
we had nursed so tenderly, they impiously dragged in 
the dust the glorious symbol of our national life and 
majesty, heaping dishonor upon it, and, like the sneering 
devil at the crucifixion, crying out, " Come and deliver 
thyself!" and then no man, with the heart of a man, 
who loved his country and feared his God, dared longer 
delay to prepare for that great struggle which was des- 
tined to rock the earth. 

Poor Maryland ! cursed with slavery, doubly cursed 
with traitors! Mr. Davis had said that Maryland was 
loyal to the United States, and had pledged himself to 
maintain that position before the people. The time 
soon came for him to redeem his pledge. On the morn- 
ing of the 15th of April the President issued his pro- 
clamation calling a special session of Congress, which 
made an extra election necessary in Maryland. Before 
the sun of that day had gone down, this card was pro- 
mulgated : 

To the voters of the fourth congressional district of Maryland : 

1 hereby announce myself as a candidate for the House of Rep- 
resentatives of the 37th Congress of the United States of America, 
upon the basis of the unconditional maintenance of the Union. 

Should my fellow-citizens of like views manifest their preference 
for a different candidate on that basis, it is not my purpose to em- 
barrass them. 

II. WINTER DAVIS. 
April 15, 1861. 



©i 



But dark days were coming for Baltimore. A mob, 
systematically organized in complicity with the rebels 
at Richmond and Harper's Ferry, seized and kept in 
subjection an unsuspecting and unarmed population from 
the 19th to the 24th of April. For six days murder 
and treason held joint sway ; and at the conclusion of 
their tragedy of horrid barbarities they gave the farce 
of holding an election for members of the house of 
delegates. 

To show the spirit that moved Mr. Davis under 
this ordeal, I cite from his letter, written on the 28th, 
to Hon. William H. Seward, the following: 

. " I have been trying to collect the persons appointed scattered by 
the storm, and to compel them to take their offices or to decline. 

" I have sought men of undoubted courage and capacity for the 
places vacated. 

" We must show the secessionists that we are not frightened, but 
are resolved to maintain the government in the exercise of all its 
functions in Maryland. 

" We have organized a guard, who will accompany the officers and 
hold the public buildings against all the secessionists in Maryland. 

" A great reaction has set in. If we now act promptly the day is 
ours and the State is safe." 



These matters being adjusted, he immediately took j 
the field for Congress on his platform against Mr. Henry 
May, conservative Union, and in the face of an opposi- 
tion which few men have dared to encounter, he carried 
on, unremittingly from that time until the election on 
the 13th of June, the most brilliant campaign against 
open traitors, doubters, and dodgers, that unrivalled 
eloquence, courage, and activity could achieve. Every- 
where, day and night, in sunshine and storm, in the 

m 



OF HENRY WINTER DAVIS. 29 

market-houses, at the street corners, and in the public 
halls, his voice rang out clear, loud, and defiant for the 
"unconditional maintenance" of the Union. He was 
defeated, but he sanctified the name of unconditional 
union in the vocabulary of every true Marylander. He 
gathered but 6,000 votes out of 14,000, yet the result 
wasa triumph which gave him the real fruits of vic- 
tory; and he exclaimed to a friend, with laudable pride, 
" With six thousand of the workingmen of Baltimore 
on my side, won in such a contest, I defy them to take 
the State out of the Union/' Though not elected, he 
never ceased his efforts. With us it was a struggle for 
homes, hearths, and lives. He said at Brooklyn : 

" You see the conflagration from a distance ; it blisters me at my 
side. You can survive the integrity of the nation ; we in Maryland 
would live on the side of a gulf, perpetually tending to plunge into 
its depths. It is for us life and liberty ; it is for you greatness, 
strength, and prosperity." 

Nothing appalled him; nothing deterred him. He 

said, at Baltimore, in 1861 : 

" The War Department has been taught by the misfortune at Bull 
Run, which has broken no power nor any spirit, which bowed no 
State nor made any heart falter, which was felt as a humiliation that 
has brought forth wisdom/' 

He also said, speaking of the rebels, and foretelling 

his own fate, if they succeeded iu Maryland : 

" They have inaugurated an era of confiscations, proscriptions, 
and exiles. Read their acts of greedy confiscation, their law of 
proscriptions by the thousands. Behold the flying exiles from the 
unfriendly soil of Virginia, Tennessee, and Missouri." 

And so he worked on, never abating one jot of his 
uncompromising devotion to the Union, like a second 



■Q 



30 ORATION ON THE LIFE AND CHARACTER 

Peter the Hermit, preaching a cause, as he believed, 
truly represented by insignia as sacred as the Cross, and 
for which no sacrifice, not even death, was too great. 

But his crowning glory was his leadership of the 
emancipation movement. The rebels, notwithstanding 
" My Maryland's" bloody welcome at South Mountain 
and Antietam, claimed that she must belong to their 
confederacy because of the homogeneousness of her 
institutions. They contended that the fetters of slavery 
formed a chain that stretched across the Potomac, and 
held in bondage not only 87,000 slaves, but 600,000 
white people also. Their constant theme was " the de- 
liverance" of Maryland. We resolved to break that last 
tie, and to take position unalterably on the side of the 
Union and freedom, and thus to deal the final blow to 
the cause and support of rebellion. We organized our 
little band, almost ridiculous from its want of numbers, 
early in 1863. A Sibley tent would have held our 
whole army. Our enemies laughed us to scorn, and 
the politicians would not accept our help on any terms, 
but denied us as earnestly as Peter denied his Lord. 
Mr. Davis was our acknowledged leader, and it was in 
the heat and fury of the contest which followed that 
our hearts were welded into permanent friendship. He 
was the platform maker, and he announced it in a few 
lines : 

" A hearty support of the entire policy of the national administra- 
tion, including immediate emancipation I y constitutional means." 

It was very short, but it covered all the ground. 
The campaign opened by the publication of an address, 
written by Mr. Davis, to the people of Maryland, which, 



I venture to say, is unsurpassed by any state paper pub- 
lished in tins age of able state papers for the warmth 
and vigor of its diction, and the lucidity and conclusive- 
ness of its argumentation. It is a pamphlet of twenty 
pages, glowing throughout with the unmistakable marks 
of his genius and patriotism, and closing with these 
words of stirring cheer : 

" We do not doubt the result, and expect, freed from the trammels 
which now bind her, to see Maryland, at no distant day, rapidly 
advancing in a course of unexampled prosperity with her sister free 
States of the undivided and indivisible Republic." 

Mr. Davis was ubiquitous. He was the life and soul 
of the whole contest. He arranged the order of battle, 
dictated the correspondence, wrote the important articles 
for the newspapers, and addressed all the concerted 
meetings. In short, neither his voice nor his pen rested 
in all the time of our travail. He would have no com- 
promise ; but rejected all overtures of the enemy short 
of unconditional surrender. On the Eastern Shore he 
spoke with irresistible power at Elkton, E as ton, Salis- 
bury, and Snow Hill, at each of the three last-named 
towns with a crowd of wondering "American citizens of 
African descent" listening to him from afar, and looking 
upon him as if they believed him to be the seraph 
Abdiel. His last appointment, in extreme southern 
Maryland, he filled on Friday, after which, bidding me a 
cordial God-speed, he descended from the stand, sprang 
into an open wagon awaiting him, travelled eighty miles 
through a raw night-air, reached Cambridge by daylight, 
and then crossed the Chesapeake, sixty miles, in time 
to close the campaign with one of his ringing speeches 



® 



in Monument square, Baltimore, on Saturday night. In 
this, our first contest, we were completely victorious. 

But we had yet a weary way before us. The legisla- 
ture had then to pass a law calling a convention. That 
law had to be approved by a majority of the people. 
Members of the convention had then to be elected in 
all parts of the State, and the Constitution which -they 
adopted had to be carried by a majority of the popular 
vote. He allowed himself no reprieve from labor until 
all this had been accomplished. And when the rest of 
us, worn out by incessant toil, gladly sought rest, he 
went before the court of appeals to maintain every- 
thing that had been done against all comers, and did so 
triumphantly. 

Let free Maryland never forget the debt of eternal 
gratitude she owes to Henry Winter Davis. 

If oratory means the power of presenting thoughts 
by public and sustained speech to an audience in the 
manner best adapted, to win a favorable decision of the 
question at issue, then Mr. Davis assuredly occupied 
the highest position as an orator. He always held his 
hearers in rapt attention until he closed, and then they 
lingered about to discuss with one another what they 
had heard. I have seen a promiscuous assembly, made 
up of friends and opponents, remain exposed to a beat- 
ing rain for two hours rather than forego hearing him. 
Those who had heard him most frequently were always 
ready to make the greatest effort to hear him again. 
Even his bitterest enemies have been known to stand 
shivering on the street corners for a whole evening, 
charmed by his marvelous tongue. His stump efforts 



never fell below his high standard. He never con- 
descended to a mere attempt to amuse. He always 
spoke to instruct, to convince, and to persuade through 
the higher and better avenues to favor. I never heard 
him deliver a speech that was not worthy of being 
printed and preserved. As a stump orator he was 
unapproachable, in my estimation, and I say that with 
a clear recollection of having heard, when a boy, that 
wonder of Yankee birth and southern development, S. 
S. Prentiss. 

Mr. Davis's ripe scholarship promptly tendered to his 
thought the happiest illustrations and the most appro- 
priate forms of expression. His brain had become 
a teeming cornucopia, whence flowed in exhaustless 
profusion the most beautiful flowers and the most sub- 
stantial fruits; and yet he never indulged in excessive 
ornamentation. His taste was almost austerely chaste. 
His style was perspicuous, energetic, concise, and withal 
highly elegant. He never loaded his sentences with 
meretricious finery, or high-sounding, supernumerary 
words. When he did use the jewelry of rhetoric, he 
would quietly set a metaphor in his page or throw a 
comparison into his speech which would serve to light 
up with startling distinctness the collossal proportions 
of his argument. Of humor he had none; but his wit 
and sarcasm at times would glitter like the brandished 
cimeter of Saladin, and, descending, would cut as keenly. 
The pathetic he never attempted; but when angered by 
a malicious assault his invective was consuming, and his 
epithets would wound like pellets of lead. Although 



34 ORATION ON THE LIFE AND CHARACTER 

gallant to the graces of expression, he always compelled 
his rhetoric to act as handmaid to his dialectics. 

Style may sometimes be an exotic; but when it is, it 
is sure to partake more and more, as years increase, of 
the peculiarities of the soil wherein it is nurtured. But 
the style of Mr. Davis was indigenous and strongly 
marked by his individuality. Although he doubtless 
admired, and perhaps imitated, the condensation and 
dignity of Gibbon, yet it is certain that he carefully 
avoided the monotonous stateliness and the elaborate 
and ostentatious art of that most erudite historian. I 
look in vain for his model in the skeptical Gibbon, the 
cynical Bolingbroke, or the gorgeous Burke. These 
were all to him intellectual giants; but giants of false 
belief and practice. Not even from Tacitus, upon whom 
he looked with the greatest favor, could he have acquired 
his burning and impressive diction. 

Henry Winter Davis was a man of faith, and 
believed in Christ and his fellow-man. His heart and 
mind were both nourished into their full dimensions 
under the fostering influences of our free institutions; 
so that, being reared a freeman, he thought and spake 
as became a freeman. No other land could have pro- 
duced such dauntless courage and such heroic devotion 
to honest conviction in a public man; and even our land 
has produced but few men of his stamp and ability. 
His implicit faith in God's eternal justice, and his grand 
moral courage, imparted to him his proselyting zeal, and 
gave him that amazing, kindling power which enabled 
him to light the fires of enthusiasm wherever he touched 
the public mind. 



OF HENRY WINTER DAVIS. 35 

To show his power in extemporaneous debate, as 
well as his determined patriotism, I will introduce a 
passage from his speech of April 11, 1864, delivered in 
the House of Representatives. You will remember 
that the end of the rebellion had not then appeared- 
Grant, with his invincible legions, had not started to exe- 
cute that greatest military movement of modern times, 
by which, after months of bloody persistence, hurling 
themselves continually against what seemed the frowning 
front of destiny, they finally drove the enemy from his 
strongholds, made Fortune herself captive, and, binding 
her to their standards, held her there until the surrender 
of every rebel in arms closed the war amid the exultant 
plaudits of men and angels. Our hopes had not then 
grown into victory, and we looked forward anxiously to 
the terrible march from the Rappahannock to Rich- 
mond. Thinking that perhaps our army stood appalled 
before the great duty required of it, and that the people 
might be diverted from their purpose to crush the 
rebellion when they saw that it could only be accom- ] 
plished at the cost of an ocean of human blood, a call 
was made on the floor of the American Congress for a 
recognition of the southern confederacy. Speaking for 
the nation, Mr. Davis said: 

" But, Mr. Speaker, if it be said that a time may come when the 
question of recognizing the southern confederacy will have to be 
answered, I admit it. * * * * When the people, exhausted 
by taxation, weary of sacrifices, drained of blood, betrayed by their 
rulers, deluded by demagogues into believing that peace is the way 
to union, and submission the path to victory, shall throw down their 
arms before the advancing foe ; when vast chasms across every 
State shall make it apparent to every eye, when too late to remedy 



gaoBi 



*ja 



it, that division from the south is anarchy at the north, and that 
peace without union is the end of the Republic; then the indepen- 
dence of the south will be an accomplished fact, and gentlemen may, 
without treason to the dead Republic, rise in this migratory house, 
wherever it may then be in America, and declare themselves for 
recognizing their masters at the south rather than exterminating 
them. Until that day, in the name of the American nation ; in the 
name of every house in the land where there is one dead for the holy 
cause; in the name of those who stand before us in the ranks of 
battle ; in the name of the liberty our ancestors have confided to us, 
I devote to eternal execration the name of him who shall propose to 
destroy this blessed land rather than its enemies. 

" But until that time arrive it is the judgment of the American 
people there shall be no compromise ; that ruin to ourselves or ruin 
to the southern rebels are the only alternatives. It is only by reso- 
lutions of this kind that nations can rise above great dangers and 
overcome them in crises like this. It was only by turning France 
into a camp, resolved that Europe might exterminate but should not 
subjugate her, that France is the leading empire of Europe to-day. 
It is by such a resolve that the American people, coercing a reluctant 
government to draw the sword and stake the national existence on 
the integrity of the Republic, are now anything but the fragments of 
a nation before the world, the scorn and hiss of every petty tyrant. 
It is because the people of the United States, rising to the height of 
the occasion, dedicated this generation to the sword, and pouring out 
the blood of their children as of no account, and vowing before high 
Heaven that there should be no end to this conflict but ruin absolute 
or absolute triumph, that we now are what we are ; that the banner 
of the Republic, still pointing onward, floats proudly in the face of 
the enemy; that vast regions are reduced to obedience to the laws, 
and that a great host in armed array now presses with steady step 
into the dark regions of the rebellion. It is only by the earnest and 
abiding resolution of the people that, whatever shall be our fate, it 
shall be grand as the American nation, worthy of that Republic which 
first trod the path of empire and made no peace but under the banners 
of victory, that the American people will survive in history. And 
that will save us. We shall succeed, and not fail. I have an abiding 
confidence in the firmness, the patience, the endurance of the Ameri- 



-B 



can people; and, having vowed to stand in history on the great 
resolve to accept of nothing but victory or ruin, victory is ours. 
And if with such heroic resolve we fall, we fall with honor, and 
transmit the name of liberty, committed to our keeping, untarnished, 
to go down to future generations. The historian of our decline and 
fall, contemplating the ruins of the last great Republic, and drawing 
from its fate lessons of wisdom on the waywardness of men, shall 
drop a tear as he records with sorrow the vain heroism of that people 
who dedicated and sacrificed themselves to the cause of freedom, and 
by their example will keep alive her worship in the hearts of men 
till happier generations shall learn to walk in her paths. Yes, sir, if 
we must fall, let our last hours be stained by no weakness. If we 
must fall, let us stand amid the crash of the falling Republic and be 
buried in its ruins, so that history may take note that men lived in 
the middle of the nineteenth century worthy of a better fate, but 
chastised by God for the sins of their forefathers. . Let the ruins of 
the Republic remain to testify to the latest generations our greatness 
and our heroism. And let Liberty, crownless and childless, sit upon 
these ruins, crying aloud in a sad wail to the nations of the world, 
1 1 nursed and brought up children and they have rebelled against 
me.'" 

Mr. Davis's most striking characteristics were his de- 
votion to principle and his indomitable courage. There 
never was a moment when he could be truthfully charged 
with trimming or insincerity. His views were always 
clearly avowed and fearlessly maintained. He hated 
slavery, and he did not attempt to conceal it. He 
remembered the lessons of his youth, and his heart 
rebelled against the injustice of the system. His antip- 
athy was deeply grounded in his convictions, and he 
could not be dissuaded, nor frightened, nor driven from 
expressing it. 

He was not a great captain, nor a mighty ruler; he 
was only one of the people, but, nevertheless, a hero. 



Born under the flag of a nation which claimed for its 
cardinal principle of government, that all men are 
created free, yet held in abject slavery four millions of 
human beings ; which erected altars to. the living God, 
yet denied to creatures, formed in the image of God 
and charged with the custody of immortal souls, the 
common rights of humanity ; he declared that the 
hateful inconsistency should cease to defile the prayers 
of Christians and stultify the advocates of freedom. 
No dreamer was he, no mere theorist, but a worker, 
and a strong one, who did well the work committed to 
him. He entered upon his self-imposed task when 
surrounded by slaves and slave-owners. He stood face 
to face with the iniquitous superstition, and to their 
teeth defied its worshipers. To make proselytes he 
had to conquer prejudices, correct traditions, elevate 
duty above interest, and induce men who had been the 
propagandists of slavery to become its destroyers. 
Think you his work was easy? Count the long years 
of his unequal strife; gather from the winds, which 
scattered them, the curses of his foes ; suffer under all 
the annoyances and insults which malice and falsehood 
can invent, and you will then understand how much of 
heart and hope, of courage and self-relying zeal, were 
required to make him what he was, and to qualify him 
to do what he did. And what did hel When the 
rough hand of war had stripped off the pretexts which 
enveloped the rebellion, and it became evident that 
slavery had struck at the life of the Republic, unmind- 
ful of * consequences to himself, he, among the first, 
arraigned the real traitor and demanded the penalty of 



death. The denunciations that fell upon him like a 
cloud wrapped him in a mantle of honor, and more 
truthfully than the great Roman orator he could have 
exclaimed, "Ego hoc animo semperfui, ut invidiam 
virtute partam, gloriam non invidiam putarem" 

This man, so stern and inflexible in the execution of 
a purpose, so rigorous in his demands of other men in 
behalf of a principle, so indifferent to preferment and 
all base objects of pursuit, had a monitor to whom he 
always gave an open ear and a prompt assent. It was 
no demon like that which attended Socrates, no witch 
like that invoked by Saul, no fiend like that to which 
Faust resigned himself A vision of light and life and 
beauty flitted ever palpably before him, and wooed him 
to the perpetual service of the good and true The 
memory of a pious and beloved mother permeated his 
whole moral being, and kept warm within him the ten- 
derest affection. Hear how he wrote of her : 

" My mother was a lady of graceful and simple manners, fair 
complexion, blue eyes, and auburn hair, with a rich and exquisite 
voice, that still thrills my memory with the echo of its vanished 
music. She was highly educated for her day, when Annapolis was 
the focus of intellect and fashion for Maryland, and its fruits shone 
through her conversation, and colored and completed her natural 
eloquence, which my father used to say would have made her an 
orator, if it had not been thrown away on a woman. She was the 
incarnation of all that is Christian in life and hope, in charity and 
thought, ready for every good work, herself the example of all she 
taught." 

It was the force of her precept and example that 
formed the man, and supplied him with his shield and 
buckler. His private life was spotless. His habits 



MaaacsBS 



were regular and abstemious, and his practice in close 
conformity with the Episcopal church, of which he was 
a member. He invariably attended divine service on 
Sunday, and confined himself for the remainder of the 
day to a course of religious reading. If from his father 
he drew a courage and a fierce determination before 
which his enemies fled in confusion, from his mother 
he inherited those milder qualities that won for him 
friends as true and devoted as man ever possessed. 
Some have said he was hard and dictatorial. They 
had seen him only when a high resolve had fired his 
breast, and when the gleam of battle had lighted his 
countenance. His friends saw deeper, and knew that 
beneath the exterior he assumed in his struggles with 
the world there beat a heart as pure and unsullied, as 
confiding and as gentle, as ever sanctified the domestic 
circle, or made loved ones happy. His heart reminded 
me of a spring among the hills of the Susquehanna, to 
which I often resorted in my youth ; around a part of 
it we boys had built a stone wall to protect it from out- 
rage, while on the side next home we left open a path, 
easily traveled by familiar feet, and leading straight to 
the sweet and perennial waters within. 

He lived to hear the salvos that announced, after 
more than two centuries of bondage, the redemption of 
his native State. He lived to vote for that grand act of 
enfranchisement that wiped from the escutcheon of the 
nation the leprous stain of slavery, and to know that the 
Constitution of the United States no longer recognized 
and protected property in man He lived to witness 
the triumph of his country in its desperate struggle 



■anrfS 



with treason, and to behold all its enemies, either wan- 
derers, like Cain, over the earth, or suppliants for mercy 
at her feet. He lived to catch the first glimpse of the 
coming glory of that new era of progress that matchless 
valor had won through the blood and carnage of a thou- 
sand battle-fields. He lived, through all the storm of 
war, to see, at last, America rejuvenated, rescued from 
the grasp of despotism, and rise victorious, with her 
garments purified and her brow radiant with the un- 
sullied light of liberty. He lived to greet the return 
of " meek-eyed peace," and then he gently laid his- head 
upon her bosom, and breathed out there his noble spirit. 
The sword may rust in its scabbard, and so let it; 
but free men, with free thought and free speech, will 
wage unceasing war until truth shall be enthroned and 
sit empress of the world. Would to God that he had 
been spared to complete a life of three score and ten 
years, for the sake of his country and posterity. When 
I think of the good he would have accomplished had 
he survived for twenty years, I can say, in the language 
of Fisher Ames, " My heart, penetrated with the remem- 
brance of the man, grows liquid as I speak, and I could 
pour it out like water." 

At the portals of his tomb we may bid farewell to 
the faithful Christian, in the full assurance that a blessed 
life awaits him beyond the grave. Serenely and trust- « 
fully he has passed from our sight and gone down into 
the dark waters. 

" So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed, 
And yet anon repairs his drooping head, 
And tricks his beams, and with new-spangled ore 
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky." 



42 ORATION ON THE LIFE AND CHARACTER 

From thi§ hall, where as scholar, statesman, and 
orator he shone so brightly, he has disappeared forever. 
Never again will he, answering to the roll-eall from this 
desk, respond for his country and the rights of man. 
j No more shall we hear his fervid eloquence in the day 
| of imminent peril, invoking us, who hold the mighty 
power of peace and war, to dedicate ourselves, if need 
be, to the sword, but to accept no end of the conflict 
save that of absolute triumph for our country. He has 
gone to answer the great roll-call above, where the 
" brazen throat of war" is voiceless in the presence of 
the Prince of Peace. Let us habitually turn to his 
recorded words, and gather wisdom as from the testa- 
ment of a departed sage ; and since we were witnesses 
of his tireless devotion to the cause of human freedom, 
let us direct that on the monument which loving hearts 
and willing hands will soon erect over his remains, there 
shall be deeply engraved the figure of a bursting shackle, 
as the emblem of the faith in which he lived and died. 
For the Christian, scholar, statesman, and orator, all 
good men are mourners ; but what shall I say of that 
grief which none can share—the grief of sincere friend- 
ship ? 

Oh, my friend ! comforted by the belief that you, 
while living, deemed me worthy to be your companion, 
and loaded me with the proofs of your esteem, I shall 
fondly treasure, during my remaining years, the recol- 
lection of your smile and counsel. Lost to me is the 
strong arm whereon I have so often leaned ; but in that 
path which in time past we trod most joyfully together, 
I shall continue, as God shall give me to see my duty, 



©a 



with unfaltering though perhaps with unskilful steps, 
right onward to the end. 

Admiring his brilliant intellect and varied acquire- 
ments, his invincible courage and unswerving fortitude, 
glorying in his good works and fair renown, but, more 
than all, loving the man, I shall endeavor to assuage the 
bitterness of grief by applying to him those words of 
proud, though tearful, satisfaction, from which the faith- 
ful Tacitus drew consolation for the loss of that noble 
Roman whom he delighted to honor : 

" Quid quid ex Agricola amavimus, quidquid mirati sumus, manet 
mansurumque est, in animis hominum, in seternitate temporuni, fama 
rerum." 



i i